The Rise Of Skywalker’s Editor Had To Convince J.J. Abrams To Let Her Cut The Movie On Set

Kylo Ren fighting in The Rise of Skywalker

The Star Wars franchise is arguably the biggest in the world, spanning decades and generations of fans. As such, the pressure for director J.J. Abrams to deliver with The Rise of Skywalker is extremely high. Not only must Abrams complete the trilogy he began with The Force Awakens, but the entire Skywalker Saga. And as such, things might need to be filmed a little differently.

Maryann Brandon is the editor on The Rise of Skywalker, one of the most important jobs on the entire crew. But rather than waiting until principal photography had wrapped, Brandon actually started cutting the film on the set, and was present during filming. But she had to convince J.J. Abrams to let her work this way. As she recently revealed:

I did this thing on cutting Rise of Skywalker - and we have a very short schedule. When we did The Force Awakens we started in May and we finished shooting in October, and we were out [the following] Christmas. For this film, we didn’t start until August, so we weren’t done until February shooting - so we have four months less time, and it’s a very big film. So I convinced J.J. to let me cut on the set. He was like, ‘No, we never do that.' I was like, ‘Just try it, so I can start turning over shots.’

Seems like the gestation period for The Force Awakens was noticeably longer than The Rise of Skywalker. So in order to produce the best product and not rush the editing process, Maryann Brandon needed to work as Episode IX was being shot.

That's exactly what J.J. Abrams eventually conceded to. And while it may be unique, that method of working should presumably result in Abrams' vision being even more strongly represented in the upcoming sequel's theatrical cut. Later in her appearance at at the Carsey-Wolf Center in Santa Barbara (via Comic Book), Maryann Brandon revealed how Abrams did an about-face, and insisted she be near him during filming. As she put it:

So I was on the set the entire time, and he got so used to it that he was like, ‘You need to be less than ten feet away from me at all times’ - so if the camera would move 10 feet, I would move 10 feet. I was everywhere! Outside, in a water tank.

Well, this is certainly exciting. The editor has a crucial job in the filmmaking process, and Maryann Brandon being on set during filming and cutting up The Rise of Skywalker as it was being shot ensures that she deeply connects to the creative vision for the blockbuster. As such, she'll presumably craft even more impressive work than her already lengthy resume It's just too bad that we'll have to wait until December to see it.

Related: J.J. Abrams Compares His Last Days On Rise Of Skywalker And The Force Awakens

The contents of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are a complete mystery, save for the very brief trailer we've been given thus far. It looks like the upcoming blockbuster will take the new heroes to exciting adventures together, as well as wrap up the story for franchise favorites like General Leia and Lando Calrissian. The narrative possibilities are endless, especially with The Emperor's laugh accompanying the final moments of that first teaser.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will arrive in theaters on December 20th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.